Results tagged ‘ Randy Flores ’

Rox roster decision highlights worth of early games

Rockies manager Jim Tracy faced an interesting call: Do the Rockies open a season against a Brewers club that has slugger Prince Fielder and a full group of other guys who swing from the left with one less left-handed reliever than normal?

Tracy answered that question Sunday. Even with the need for one more lefty, Tracy decided it wasn’t worth risking Joe Beimel’s health.

Beimel signed a Minor League deal with the club March 23 and pitched all of three innings in Spring Training. Beimel felt he was ready. He worked out at a high school near his home in California. When he arrived, he showed more bite on his slider than at any point last year, and didn’t give up a run or a hit in his three games.

But Tracy couldn’t get past the fact it was three games.

So Beimel will go to Tucson, Ariz., and possibly begin the season in the Minors. It’s the Spring Training he didn’t have. Right-handed prospect Esmil Rogers will handle the long relief role, and the bullpen will have to make due with only setup man Randy Flores and closer Franklin Morales throwing form the left.

Tracy said Beimel won’t have thrown enough to be activated when the Rockies open the home schedule Friday against the Padres at Coors. Beimel would be a nice guy to have in these early series. Fielder is 1-for-8 career and Padres slugger Adrian Gonzalez is 2-for-21 against Beimel.

But when it comes down to the manager weighing his health concerns against two early series, the decision is an easy one. We’re talking about a Rockies team that has gone to the playoffs two of the last three seasons by making stunning late-season runs.

Teams don’t make those when key components of the roster are needlessly pushed into potentially dangerous situations in April. The Rockies would like to perform better in the begining of the year, but not at that potential cost.

Plus, the roster has the flexibility to send Rogers down to Triple-A Colorado Springs once Beimel is ready. There’s no need to potentially lose a player the club needs when the roster move becomes necessary.

So this puts it all in perspective. It’s more important to not risk losing players, either to injury or off waivers, than it is to have a perfect Opening Day roster.

 

Bullpen the final big issue of spring

The bullpen race looks to be down to three, possibly four, pitchers for one spot.

Here’s how it looks, barring injury:

– Lefty Franklin Morales should be the closer, since Huston Street is going to begin the year on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation.

– With Morales closing, Randy Flores is the lone lefty in a setup role.

– Righties Rafael Betancourt, as long as his shoulder continues to respond, Matt Daley and Matt Belisle are locks. Belisle is out of options, but that shouldn’t matter. He has not given up a run all spring, and Daley has been perfect since two bad initial outings.

– Tentatively, count righty Manuel Corpas as one. He has been bad at times, but when he keeps the ball down in the zone he has been effective. Plus, manager Jim Tracy is considering him for end-of-the game duty alongside Morales.

All of this means non-roster right-handers Tim Redding, Juan Rincon and Justin Speier are vying for a job. With all of them under Minor League contracts, there is no roster issue forcing the Rockies’ hand.

The X-factor is lefty Joe Beimel, who agreed to a Minor League deal Monday night. General manager Dan O’Dowd said he does not expect Beimel to be ready for the opening of the season.

Redding began the spring as a starter, and is in postition to throw multiple innings.Speier’s forkball has been an effective pitch against right-handers and left-handers, which makes him a candidate to hold a job until Beimel is ready. Rincon, who has a save and a 1.29 ERA and .209 batting average against, has impressed scouts with his location.

O’Dowd: Beimel likely to start year in Minors

Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd announced Tuesday, “Johnny Cash showed up. He’s dressed in black, ready to go.”

O’Dowd was referring to left-handed reliever Joe Beimel, who has agreed to a Minor League contract. As Beimel underwent his physical, O’Dowd said it was unlikely he’ll have time to be in Major League shape by the time the season starts on April 5.

“That might be what it turns out, but that’s not what we’re going into this for,” O’Dowd said. “I’m sure he’s going to think he’s going to be ready, but we’re not going to rush that at all.”

Beimel signed with the National last March 18 and made his first appearance on April 7. But that was a different situation.

“We’re trying to win a World Series,” O’Dowd said. “We’re not just trying to get a Major League pitcher. He has to be right to help us. We’ll put him in the best position to help our club and help himself.

“Joe had other options. I think he really wanted to come here.”

If Beimel begins in the Minors, the bullpen could be a short from the left side, especially if lefty Franklin Morales is the closer. Randy Flores, who returns today from six days off after being hit with a line drive, would be the only lefty setup man.

Flores’ injury highlighted how thin the Rockies were in left-handed relievers. After him, the only healthy lefty reliever in camp was Matt Reynolds, who hasn’t piched above Double-A. Now the Rockies are leaning toward giving Reynolds as much experience as possible in camp, but only taking him to start the season in the case of an emergency.

Betancourt, Flores set to throw Tuesday

Right-hander Rafael Betancourt, hampered by right shoulder tightness much of this spring, is set to make his Cactus League debut on Tuesday against the Padres at Hi Corbett Field. Also, left-hander Randy Flores is scheduled to make his return from a bruised left forearm he suffered last Wednesday when hit by a line drive.

Two catchers also are on the mend. Paul Lo Duca has begun playing catch. He has been bothered by a strain beneath his right arm. Catcher Paul Phillips began doing baseball activities over the weekend after being slowed by a calf strain. Third baseman Darin Holcomb, a prospect who has been sent to Minor League camp, has consulted with doctors about a lower back issue, manager Jim Tracy said.

Sunday’s game: Another look at Justin Speier

The Rockies are playing the Royals at Surprise, Ariz., Sunday afternoon. Righty prospect Jhoulys Chacin is the starting piutcher, but the key development will come later in the game when righty Justin Speier pitches.

Speier, a non-roster invitee, has built a career on preventing inherited runners from scoring, which is a plus. Where he could make the Rockies team, though, is with his abilty to stop left-handed hitters as well as right-handers.

Over the course of his career, right-handers and left-handers have each batted .240 against him. Things change when he slumps, as evidenced by lefties’ .328 average against him last year before the Angels released him in August. However, he has thrown well for most of his appearances in the Cactus League.

After a clean ninth inning with two strikeouts, and a win, in Saturday’s 11-10 victory over the Angels, Speier will pitch on consecutive days. It’s a major test.

“One thing that you know you’re going to get with Justin is that you’re going to get somebody who’s going to work very, very quick, and is gong to fill up the strike zone,” Speier said. “When he gets in trouble, pitches get too quick and they get very rotational and get flat. They’re in the zone, but they’re in the flat variety.

 

“But when he focuses on each and every pitch, and has total focus on it, he gets better plane on his pitches. He has that forkball that is effective versus lefties and righties. That’s a pitch that nobody else possesses that we have, that type of forkball. Justin is also a guy that we’re not overlooking.”

 

Lefty Randy Flores, who is expected to be one of the bullpen lefties, is throwing a bullpen session Sunday. He has been on lower activity since suffering a bruised left forearam when he was hit with a line drive during Wednesday’s game against the Indians. With Franklin Morales likely to fill in as closer for the injured Huston Street (shoulder stiffness) when the season begins, the Rockies want to pair Flores with another pitcher adept at facing dangerous left-handed batters.

 

Matt Reynolds, who hasn’t pitched above Double-A but is impressing the staff with his tenacity in camp, is getting a long look. But someone like Speier could reduce the pressure to have another lefty, or, if Reynolds makes it, give the Rockies a more experienced option late in games.

 

Apodaca said the plan is to see all the Rockies relievers on consecutive days, although righty setup man Rafael Betancourt, who is coming back from shoulder tightness, and righty Matt Belisle, who has pitched well but has had to deal with forearm tightness after his appearances, might not do back-to-backs this spring.

 

Rox Notes: Matt Reynolds getting long look

Left-hander Matt Reynolds hasn’t pitched above Double-A Tulsa, but he has a 2.65 ERA since being drafted in the 20th round out of Austin Peay in 2007 and is coming off a strong performance in the 2009 Arizona Fall League.

Now he’s squarely on the big-league radar.

Left-hander Franklin Morales is expected to be the closer, which means the Rockies will need another lefty alongside Randy Flores, who appears OK after taking a line drive off his left forearm on Wednesday.

Given Reynolds’ pro experience and the fact it’s his first big-league camp, the expectation would be he would return to Tulsa or go to Triple-A Colorado Springs if he pitches well this spring. But given the role available, manager Jim Tracy is looking at him as a candidate.

“Is he a candidate? Yes, he is,” Tracy said. “Will we do that? I don’t know. I’m not going to answer that question today.

“A lot of things depend upon where our bullpen scenario goes over the course of the next 10-12 days.”

It makes sense. More-experienced lefties will be available, but they’re more costly. The Rockies will have to determine if they are or are not more talented than Reynolds. The Rockies’ other experienced lefty, non-roster invitee Jimmy Gobble, is trying to return from a right groin strain. He has continued throwing, but it isn’t certain when he’ll return to game action.

Tracy used Reynolds for two innings of Saturday’s 11-10 Cactus League victory over the Angels.

Of particular interest to Tracy was Reynolds’ reaction to Juan Rivera’s leadoff homer on a 2-0 pitch in the seventh, which put the Rockies behind, 7-6. Reynolds worked Brandon Wood into a fly ball, and fanned Robb Quinlan and Terry Evans.

“What happens after the home run is hit?” Tracy said. “Do we get tentative, start spraying them all over and start avoiding the bat, or do we keep going after it. He continued to go after the bat. That’ s an encouraging sign as far as I’m concerned.”

The homer was the only hit off Reynolds. He struck out two and walked one.

– The Rockies optioned right-hander Esmil Rogers to Minor League camp. Rogers made one big-league appearance last season, but is considered part of the club’s rich pitching depth.

– Righty Matt Belisle vanquished the Angels on a groundball and two fly balls in his lone inning, and has had four scoreless appearances covering five innings.

Tracy used Belisle in significant situations last September and used him in the National League Division Series against the Phillies. The only limitation Tracy faces is how often he can use Belisle, who has periodic bouts with forearm tightness after his appearances.

Belisle went up and down between the Rockies and Triple-A Colorado Springs last year. His issue, a lack of aggressiveness, didn’t show up during his last callup. he has continued to attack, saying pitching when it really counted helped his confidence.

“That just poured gasoline on the fire,” Belisle said. 

 

Flores bruised, Betancourt fine after throwing

X-rays on Thursday confirmed that Rockies left-hander Randy Flores has a bruised left forearm. He was hit by a line drive during Wednesday’s game against the Indians.

Righty setup man Rafael Betancourt, who has not pitched in a Cactus League game because of shoulder tightness, reported fine after facing hitters for 25 pitches on Wednesday. He’s in line for a simulated game Saturday, and could be involved in Minor League games next week.

The Rockies are awaiting MRI rsults on the sore right shoulder of closer Huston Street and the left knee of non-roster infielder Omar Quintanilla. The tightness and the interruption of preparation likely means Street will begin the year on the disabled list, but manager Jim Tracy said he is maintaining hope that the damage is not extensive and Street will not be out for long.

Bruised Flores arm has Rox crossing fingers

On a day when the Rockies were going to Plan B in the bullpen, they received yet another possible blow. Left-hander Randy Flores took a line drive off his throwing forearm during Wednesday afternoon’s 6-3 victory over the Indians. The arm swelled immediately.

Flores and the club hope ice through the evening and night will reduce the swelling. If not, Flores will need an MRI and the Rockies might be looking at Plan C.

Early Monday, the Rockies decided to send closer Huston Street for an MRI on his right shoulder because of persistent tightness and inflammation. If that injury forces left-hander Franklin Morales to fill in as closer for more than a short period, the Rockies will have to settle on a lefty to join Flores for specialist duty.

They don’t need a Flores injury.

But with two out in the seventh, the Indians’ Chris Gimenez lined a pitch to the box. Flores could not knock the ball down. It caromed off the forearm toward third base, where Ian Stewart fielded the ball and threw for the final out of the inning.

The arm expanded before Flores even made it to the dugout. At least since then, the news has been positive.

“When I came in, they did the test to indicate if it was broken — if I shrieked or something — and I passed,” Flores said. “It basically feels like a monkey bump, times 100. But it got a lot of meat.”

Flores signed a Minor League contract with the Rockies before last spring. He was coming off shoulder surgery, however, and spent most of last season at Triple-A Colorado Springs. Flores pitched well enough last September (0-1, 4.91 ERA in 10 appearances) to earn a new, one-year contract worth $650,000.

This spring, Flores has no record and a 3.86 ERA in five appearances.

“It is noticeably different the way the ball is coming out of his hand versus where we were at with him at this point in time a year ago in the spring, not even close,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. “That’s how much better he is.”

Split-squad Sunday

The Rockies are playing at Hi Corbett Field and at Tucson Electric Park, against the D-backs in both games.

Here is the lineup fro the game at Hi Corbett:

Eric Young Jr., 2B

Clint Barmes, SS

Carlos Gonzalez, CF

Miguel Olivo, C

Melvin Mora, 3B

Michael Paulk, 1B

Cole Garner, RF

Jay Payton, LF

Aaron Cook, RHP

Here’s the rest of the pitching: RHP Samuel Deduno, LHP Christian Friedrich, RHP Manuel Corpas, LHP Randy Flores.

Here is the lineup for the game at TEP

Dexter Fowler, CF

Omar Quintanilla, 2B

Seth Smith, LF

Ryan Spilborghs, RF

Ian Stewart, 3B

Chris Iannetta, C

Hector Gomez, SS

Jeff Kindel, 1B

Franklin Morales, LHP

Here is the rest of the pitching schedule: RHP Juan Nicasio, RHP Andrew Graham, RHP Juan Rincon, RHP Justin Speier, LHP Matt Reynolds.

 

Flores could play pivotal role; Stewart returns

Rockies left-handed reliever Randy Flores went 0-0 with a 5.63 ERA in 16 games with the Rockies from May 16 to July 4, before the club sent him down to Triple-A Colorado Springs. Flores, remember, ended last season with shoulder surgery while with the Cardinals. But he said he had no idea how far he was from top form when he was.

“I don’t know how everyone else is wired, but each day that I was throwing, I was telling myself that I was ready, and I’d work and do the best I can that day,” Flores said. “In hindsight, you could see the steps and the gradual progress. It’s been a bunch of baby steps that have allowed me to progress to where I am now.”

Flores posted a 2.35 ERA after being sent down. By August, he was back to top form.

“Part of it is the muscle memory of removing bad habits leading up to injury, and afterward,” he said. “There was progress made over this last month.”

Now he’s a needed piece of the Rockies’ puzzle.

Flores has pitched big games before. He appeared in the postseason with the Cardinals in 2005 and 2006, and posted a 1.00 ERA in 12 relief outings. With Franklin Morales being the only other lefty in the bullpen, it figures that Flores will be called upon at crucial times.

“I do have some history of pitching in some of those situations, and I look forward to getting one out or pitching four innings, whatever this club needs,” Flores said.

 

– Third baseman Ian Stewart missed Tuesday night’s 8-3 victory over the Mets to be with his wife, Susan, for the birth of the couple’s first child, a girl, Ellsi Gray Stewart. She was born Tuesday at 4:25 p.m. and measured 7.5 pounds and 20 inches. Stewart was back in teh Rockies’ lineup Wednesday.

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